(JTA) – A representative with the Majdanek state museum denied a report that mass graves of Holocaust victims at the Sobibor death camp in Poland were dug up recently by treasure hunters.
“We emphatically deny” such reports, the representative told JTA on Monday. The Majdanek state museum oversees the Sobibor site.
The response was to an article in the Daily Mail Online, which reported Monday that the mass graves were found to have been disturbed during an archaeological dig.
Visits to the Sobibor site have been restricted during archaeological work in the former death camp, and the construction of a new museum building, according to the museum’s website.
“There has been a big archaeological project going on, but when we started excavating we discovered that people had already been digging near to where the gas chamber had been in Camp Three,” a museum source told Mail Online, the newspaper reported. “We found lots of pits which were nothing to do with us and clearly weren’t professionally dug by scientists. We don’t know who did it, but we suspect they were looking for gold or metal.”
Up to 300,000 people, most of them Jewish, were killed at Sobibor.
Poles dug for valuables on the sites of Nazi death camps at the end of World War II, according to the American-Polish historian Jan Gross, who described the “Treblinka Gold Rush” in his book Golden Harvest.